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Report: Serbia's Transition: Reforms Under Siege (ICG)

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  • Florian Bieber
    http://www.crisisweb.org/projects/showreport.cfm?reportid=417Serbia s Transition: Reforms Under SiegeEXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 27, 2001

      Serbia's Transition: Reforms Under Siege


      The 3 August 2001 murder of former State Security (DB)
      official Momir Gavrilovic
      acted as a catalyst for the emergence of a long-hidden feud
      within Serbia’s
      ruling DOS (Democratic Opposition of Serbia) coalition.
      Inflamed by Yugoslav
      President Vojislav Kostunica’s closest advisers, the
      ‘Gavrilovic Affair’ has driven a
      wedge into DOS that could spell the end of the coalition in
      its present form. In
      so doing, Kostunica’s Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) has
      been exposed more
      clearly than before as a conservative nationalist party
      intent on preserving
      certain elements of the Milosevic regime.

      The open quarrel may force entirely unnecessary elections
      that could prove
      harmful to the reform process. The crisis is also likely to
      block the already slow
      work of the Serbian parliament in its current session. At
      the same time, it has
      presented the government with a clear opportunity to make
      its work more
      transparent and accountable.

      Kostunica’s DSS led the attacks against a group of
      reform-oriented, relatively
      pragmatic politicians centred mostly around Serbian Premier
      Zoran Djindjic and
      his Democratic Party (DS). The severity of the DSS attack
      dealt a heavy blow to
      the coalition and changed the face of Serbian politics.
      Although the two sides
      may soon patch up their differences, the fallout from the
      events surrounding the
      ‘Gavrilovic Affair’ will be widespread and could affect the
      pace and extent of
      political and economic reforms, as well as Yugoslavia’s
      cooperation with the
      international community and its neighbours. So too the lack
      of civilian control
      over the Yugoslav Army (VJ) has become more apparent. In
      regional terms, at
      stake in the current struggle within DOS are the
      continuation of FRY funding for
      the Army of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska, Belgrade’s stance
      towards UNMIK, and
      the question of further cooperation with the International
      Criminal Tribunal for
      the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

      Since the nineteen-member DOS coalition defeated the regime
      of former
      Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in the September and
      December 2000
      elections, internal DOS rivalries and disputes have
      hindered Serbia’s reform
      process. The pro-reform faction centred around Djindjic,
      while the more
      conservative and nationalist elements grouped around
      Kostunica. The
      differences seemed manageable until Gavrilovic’s murder,
      but since then,
      political feuding triggered by the murder has shaken the
      foundations of the
      governing coalition and exposed Kostunica and the DSS as
      significant obstacles
      to continued reform.

      Hoping to support the emergence of democracy in Yugoslavia,
      the international
      community has rushed to accept Kostunica. But apart from
      the arrest and
      transfer of Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague, international
      leverage on
      Yugoslavia to comply with international goals for regional
      stability and peace
      has been manifestly ineffectual. The DSS has yet to
      formulate a vision of a
      modern economy or society, except in terms of
      state-building and nationalist
      goals that are unlikely to deliver either internal
      development or regional
      stabilisation. Since early August, the DSS has tried to
      force early (and quite
      unnecessary) elections; dealt what could have been a
      terminal blow to the DOS
      coalition; brought a number of other reform initiatives
      into question; and
      emerged as protectors of Milosevic’s legacy in several
      essential respects. Even
      now, the DSS is – under the guise of legalism – pushing
      measures that could
      lead to an increase in regional organised crime, cigarette
      and petroleum
      smuggling, and worsened relations with UNMIK.

      In sum, the ‘Gavrilovic Affair’ has thrown the problems
      involving reform,
      elections, and the fate of DOS into newly sharp relief.
      This report describes the
      affair, puts it in context, and examines its implications
      in the light of
      international community priorities for Serbia, FRY and the


      1. If the international community seriously wishes the
      Federal Republic of
      Yugoslavia to continue down the path of democratic reform,
      it should examine
      the role that President Kostunica is playing, as well as
      his party’s platform and
      positions on key issues such as economic reform, judicial
      reform, social reform,
      cooperation with the ICTY, support for Republika Srpska and
      its military, support
      for Serb-run ‘parallel structures’ in northern Kosovo, the
      effective functioning of
      the federal state, and the role of the Yugoslav military
      (VJ) in political life.

      2. There should be a reappraisal in particular of the
      options for pressuring
      President Kostunica to move positively on the following

      a) removal of General Pavkovic from his post as Chief of
      General Staff of the VJ;
      b) re-entry of the DSS to the Serbian government; c)
      preservation of the DOS
      coalition until at least the middle of 2002; d)
      postponement of the Serbian
      elections until at the very earliest the late autumn of
      2002 (to enable reforms to
      get on track); e) a public declaration of support for
      cooperation with the ICTY; f)
      use of his prestige within the federal government to get
      the law on cooperation
      with the ICTY adopted, and to ensure practical cooperation
      with the
      international mission in Kosovo.

      3. The international community should pressure President
      Kostunica and
      Premier Djindjic to distance themselves from prominent
      individuals associated
      with the Milosevic regime and its cronies.

      4. The international donor community should urge President
      Kostunica to take
      an unequivocal public stance supporting the difficult
      economic, social and judicial
      reforms required by donors and desperately needed by Serbia.

      5. The international community should support the DSS’s
      call for increased
      transparency and accountability within the Serbian government.

      6. The international community should express concern at
      the DSS’s call to
      revoke three administrative decisions affecting revenue
      collection in Kosovo and
      petroleum imports to Serbia, as their revocation would
      reduce revenue flows to
      the Serbian government and UNMIK, and increase organized
      criminal activity.

      7. Given that no political party or coalition can be
      expected to make Serbian
      society face up to its own responsibility for the
      atrocities and suffering of the
      past decade, the international community should support
      other groups in civil
      society that are better able to foster the values of truth
      and reconciliation. For
      without these values, the reform process will not take root.

      Belgrade/Brussels, 21 September 2001

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